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Concussions frequently cause vision issues, affecting the eyes in various ways. According to scientific studies, over 80 percent of people who get a concussion also experience at least one type of ocular problem. (Learn More)
Vision problems caused by a concussion include double or blurred vision, eye strain and fatigue, and headache that increases with eye use, among others. Even mild concussions can cause these symptoms. (Learn More)
The first line of treatment for a concussion is rest. After a few weeks, if symptoms still persist, doctors may recommend active therapies, such as vision, physical, or occupational therapy. (Learn More)
Everyone should see a doctor after getting a concussion. Most people are treated promptly in an emergency room and sent home with care instructions. Dangerous symptoms of a concussion, such as slurred speech, seizures, or loss of consciousness, may require an overnight stay at the hospital. (Learn More)
Although everyone experiences them differently, concussions commonly causes symptoms that show up in your vision. It is important to pay attention to these symptoms and note if they get worse. Worsening of symptoms warrants immediate medical attention. (Learn More)
Concussions & Your Vision
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and it can easily affect vision.
Someone who sustains a hard bump, jolt, or blow to the head or body that forces the head and brain to jostle quickly can get a concussion. The sudden impact of such a hit can cause the brain to bounce or twist inside the skull. Chemical changes take place, and brain cells can be stretched or damaged.
Vision problems related to a concussion are not surprising, explains the Concussion Alliance, as more areas of the brain are used for processing visual information than for any other system in the body.
Studies have found that most people who get a concussion experience visual symptoms. A 2015 study on concussions in adolescents found the following effects on vision:
- 69 percent had one or more visual symptoms
- 51 percent experienced accommodative disorders
- 49 percent experienced convergence insufficiency
- 29 percent had saccadic dysfunction
- 46 percent had multiple vision problems
A 2017 study on post-concussion vision disorders also found a high rate of vision problems following a concussion. In this study, 82 percent of the patients, all of whom had a concussion, were diagnosed with an oculomotor problem. These patients demonstrated binocular problems (62 percent), accommodative problems (54 percent), and eye movement problems (21 percent).
Vision Problems Caused by a Concussion
The Concussion Alliance explains that visual symptoms experienced after sustaining a concussion are not related to visual acuity, or the clarity of your vision. Rather, visual symptoms include the following:
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Eye strain or fatigue
- Headaches that get worse the more you use your eyes
- Difficulty with tracking moving objects
- Losing your place while reading
- Sensitivity to light
- Motion sensitivity
Even mild concussions can causes the above symptoms. Be aware of any visual symptoms you experience and report them to your doctor.
It is also important not to engage in activities that strain your eyes too much when you are recovering from a concussion. Working on a computer or even reading for extended periods of time may put too much stress on your eyes and lead to worsening of symptoms like headache and sensitivity.
Symptoms of a Concussion
If you or someone close to you has sustained an injury to the head, knowing the signs of a concussion will help you seek appropriate medical care.
Someone with a concussion may report the following symptoms:
- Just not “feeling right”
- Pressure in the head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with balance
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Feeling hazy, groggy, foggy, or sluggish
- Concentration or memory problems
If you are with someone who had a concussion, you may notice the following signs in the person:
- Inability to remember events just before or after the injury happened
- Appearing dazed or stunned
- Confusion and forgetfulness
- Appearing more clumsy than usual
- Answering questions slowly
- Loss of consciousness
- Changes in mood, behavior, or personality
All of the above symptoms are signs of a concussion. They typically appear shortly after the injury happens, though they can also develop within the following hours and days. Each person with a concussion can experience any combination of the above symptoms.
If the symptoms of a concussion get worse over time, the person should go to the emergency room right away.
How to Treat a Concussion
For most people, resting for a few days or weeks will be enough to fully recover from a concussion. Rest is the current standard of care for a concussion, explains the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Some people, however, do not make a fully recovery on their own and need active treatments.
For people who experience post-concussion syndrome (PCS), the following treatment options are available:
- Vision therapy
- Neuro-optometric rehabilitation
- Vestibular (balance) therapy
- Physical therapy
- Exertional therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Cognitive rehabilitation therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech-language pathology
To be safe, most doctors recommend waiting several weeks after a concussion before beginning active treatments. It is thought that stimulating injured or vulnerable brain cells may actually hinder recovery rather than promote it. For this reason, the brain is given time to heal on its own before interventions are made.
When to See a Doctor
Anyone who sustains a concussion should be seen by a medical care provider, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most people who get a concussion are initially seen in an emergency room or medical office just after their injury happens. For the most part, patients are sent home with clear care constructions.
In the case of a severe concussion, patients can be held overnight in the hospital. These are dangerous signs of a concussion that warrant emergency medical care:
- One pupil that is larger than the other
- Extreme drowsiness
- A headache that gets progressively worse
- Slurred speech, tingling feelings, or weakness
- Diminished coordination
- Recurrent vomiting or nausea
- Odd behavior
- Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Loss of consciousness
Someone with a concussion exhibiting the above symptoms should be seen by a doctor right away, as the symptoms could be signs of a dangerous blood clot or pressure on the brain. While alarming, these symptoms can be treated, and a full recovery is usually expected.
Most doctors refer to concussions as mild brain injuries, but they must be addressed appropriately in order to allow a complete recovery without the risk of reinjury. Reinjury is dangerous, as it increase the chances of further injury and possible brain damage.
During the consultation, we will ask you about your eye health history and your medications, and perform some tests. You will then be examined by the surgeon who will discuss your treatment options. Your personal Patient Counselor will help you throughout the process.
Your Counselor can review payment options and schedule you for surgery and related appointments, such as pre- and post-operative exams. Prior to your procedure you will have a dilated eye exam, and you should discontinue wearing your contact lenses and begin taking eye drops as instructed.
Plan to be at the center for two to three hours the day of your procedure. ICL eye surgery is a fairly brief outpatient procedure. Your surgeon dilates your eyes, and gives you a local anesthetic to numb the area. A tiny incision is made, and the clear lens is slipped between your iris and your eye’s natural lens. The day of your procedure should be a day of rest.
Your Patient Counselor will give you detailed post-operative instructions and eye drop regimen for your recovery. After ICL surgery, you’ll need several follow-ups with your eye doctor. Visual recovery is rapid, and you can expect noticeable improvement within a day or two. Most patients are generally able to return to their normal activities within two or three days following their procedure.
Concussions & the Eyes
Concussions cause visual symptoms in the majority of people. If you experience any changes in your vision following a concussion, speak with your doctor and take extra care to let your eyes rest and heal.
Most people make a full recovery within a few weeks just by allowing themselves the proper amount of rest. For people who experience lasting symptoms that don’t go away on their own, many treatment options are available.
Concussion Danger Signs. (February 2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Concussion Signs and Symptoms. (February 20219). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PCS Resources. Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Vision Diagnoses Are Common After Concussion in Adolescents. (2015). Clinical Pediatrics.
Vision Therapy. Concussion Alliance.
Vision Therapy for Post-Concussion Vision Disorders. (January 2017). Optometry and Vision Science.
What Is a Concussion? (February 2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.